scaling cook times for smaller portions

I cook for two so I use smaller cuts of meat than most recipes call for. If my recipe calls for a six pound cut but I want to use a three pound cut, how do I reduce the cook time interval?

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It really depends on the cut of meat. If I’m unsure of the cook time, I try to search here or on the web for recipes with similar thickness to what I am trying to make. It’s important to note for most meats your cooking, cooking a little bit longer or at the same time of something thicker, is usually okay. For example, for a 2-inch ribeye steak, I’ll cook for 2+ hours. But for a 1-inch steak, I’ll also cook for 2+ hours if I’m bogged down doing something else around the house. Sous vide is pretty forgiving with cook times. You’ll see in various cook + temp guides, you’ll usually have a pretty flexible cook time to play with.

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With sous vide, the thickness of a piece of meat is of more importance than its weight. Cooking requires the transfer of heat from the water bath to the core of the product you’re cooking. For meats, that takes approximately half hour per half inch. So, if you’re steak is 1.5 inches thick it will take approximately 90 minutes for the centre of it to come up to temperature no matter if that steak is the size of a coaster or the size of a dinner plate.

As Alyssa says, sous vide cooking is very time forgiving. Most items cooked can be carried well over time with no detrimental impact. If anything, it will simply become more tender as more of the meat’s collagen is converted to gelatin.

I’m also only cooking for 2 people, but oddly enough, I find myself doing more roasts and larger pieces of meat than I used to. Why? Because the sliced makes for the best sandwiches. :slight_smile:


Ember is right. It’s about thickness, not weight. Shape and size determine the correct temp, not weight (although there is a certain relation between those things…)

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Not quite. The “correct temperature” is determined by how you enjoy your meat. Desired done-ness determines the temperature, above 130F for cooks longer than 4 hours.

Shape and size will impact minimum time… but there are also other factors that come into play here.

A simplified way of looking at it:
Temperature determines done-ness.
Time determines texture.

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